When you finally decide to install a Nest thermostat in your house, you might be under the impression that it’s just a way to save on energy bills. What you’ll realize within just a couple of weeks of owning one is that there are many other things you can use the smart device for.
The Nest thermostat is fast becoming the heart of many smart homes, mostly because it’s one of the most popular smart devices on the market, but also because there are so many manufacturers and app developers who are integrating their services and products with the Nest.
Read on – you may be surprised just how many little tricks you can accomplish with your new Nest thermostat!
Voice Commands with Google Now
The future has arrived.
This is easy to accomplish. Here are the requirements:
- You need a Google account
- Download Google Now for your iPhone or your Android
- Or download Google Chrome
Go get started, just visit the Works With Nest page, and under Control your Nest with your voice, click Yes, I’m In. You’ll need to give Google permission to control your Nest thermostat.
Once you’re done, you’ll see a green “Enabled” status with a check mark. This means you’re ready to start controlling your Nest with your voice!
If you’re using Google Chrome, just tap the microphone in the Google Search field (or say “OK Google” into your microphone) and then say “set temperature to 65” or whatever temp you like. Google will pop up a control panel with your Nest device and location, and the temperature that you want to set it to.
Click the green check mark under this to initiate the change. You’ll see an image of the nest with your target temperature as confirmation that the change took place.
You can use different wording to issue your temperature change command – see them all at the Works With Nest voice command page.
This is wonderfully convenient. Imagine you’ve left home on a trip and you’re at a hotel. You ran downstairs to get a snack in the lobby, leaving you phone in your room. You remember that you forgot to turn the temperature down when you left home. Just go to the nearest computer, open up the Chrome browser, log into your Google account and then issue your voice command. Done.
Of course, if you do have your mobile with you, it’s a whole lot easier. Open up Google Now and just issue the same voice command. Google takes care of the rest.
I can’t really think of a more convenient way to control our Nest thermostat than this, short of opening up the Nest app on your phone and literally changing the temperature. But even that would take longer than a voice command!
Your Nest Can Call You with Ooma
The wi-fi enabled, Internet phone service Ooma has been around for years, but the company has cleverly integrated its service with Nest.
What purpose could there be to integrate your phone service with your Nest? Simply put, the Nest thermostat has an intelligent Auto-Away feature that actually learns your at-home patterns. Whenever the Nest knows your out of the house, it will adjust the home temperature to save energy.
Ooma taps into your Nest to offer you the following features:
- Using your Nest’s “Away” status to automatically enable call forwarding whenever you’re not home.
- Ooma can call you if people don’t arrive home when you expect them to.
- Receive a call if your Nest smoke alarm triggers or the battery is low.
Enabling this is really easy from your Ooma account. Just click on Preferences.
In the left menu, you’ll see Nest Alerts.
This page is where you can click the button to link your Nest account with your Ooma account.
To enable the “Auto-Away” feature for call forwarding, just click Follow Me enabled and choose which away status you want it to use (manual or automatic).
If you have a Nest Protect, you can enable the smoke and CO alarm features on this page. Also, configure “Check-in monitoring” to have Ooma alert you if no one is home during a time of day when you expect someone to be there.
As you can see, the integration between Ooma and Nest makes perfect sense. The features of this integration add convenience and automation to your growing smart home.
Control Nest from Windows
If you have either a Windows mobile device or a Windows computer running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, you can control it right from your desktop with an app called Nest Manager.
The desktop app looks identical to the website and the mobile app, with your Nest devices displayed in the center pane, and the settings and status along the right.
From your Windows desktop you can also set up the Nest temperature schedule to optimize your energy savings, or review your energy usage history.
IFTTT Integrations with Nest
One of the best ways to enhance your Nest experience is through IFTTT integrations. One of the integrations I mentioned in the Nest installation article was using the Weather trigger in IFTTT to set the temperature on your thermostat.
In this example, I’ve set it up to turn the thermostat way down to 50 degrees F if the temperature outdoors rises above 65 degrees.
Another useful integration is the email trigger, which you can use to send IFTTT an email to set your Nest temperature.
All you have to do is configure the email trigger with a hashtag to identify the temperature setpoint command.
Then you can set up the Nest action to use the body of the email as the setpoint temperature.
Now all you have to do is send IFTTT an email with the trigger hashtag in the subject, and the temperature you want to set your Nest at in the body of the email.
Or, you could set up a Facebook trigger, so that any time you want to set your Nest to room temperature, or to an energy-saving temperature, you can post a status update using a specific hashtag.
For example, you can create a Facebook hashtag “#warmupnest” that’ll set the Nest thermostat to 70 degrees any time you post a status update with that hashtag in it.
Just use the Nest action, and give it the temperature setpoint for that hashtag.
Or, what if you’d like to ensure that the Nest keeps your house at a cooler, energy-saving temperature whenever you’re at work and not at home? Create a Foursquare trigger so that every time you check-in at your workplace, your Nest action lowers the thermostat temperature to your energy saving setpoint.
IFTTT really transforms your Nest thermostat into a device that you can access and control from anywhere, at any time, and in any which way you please.
But what about controlling other things with your Nest? Well with IFTTT, that’s possible too.
Have Your Nest Trigger Home Automation
The beauty of having a Nest product in your house is that you have a device that always knows when you’re home and when you’re away. This can really come in handy when you want to trigger useful automations.
For example, you can use the IFTTT Nest trigger of “Home” status to switch your Android to silent/vibrate mode whenever you arrive home, so you can have uninterrupted, quality family time.
Or, how about using it to trigger an automated Facebook update letting everyone know that you’re home! By the time you actually sit down to the computer and log into Facebook, you’ll have a bunch of responses from your friends.
You could even use it to log data collection to your Google Drive account, in case you want to track the exact time that you arrived home from work or from traveling. This can be especially useful if you’re getting paid for travel and need to know the times that you leave and arrive.
You can actually have the Nest and IFTTT log both when you’re away and when you’re home every day. The best way to do this would be using the Nest “Away” trigger to log that data as a new row in a spreadsheet.
If you work in a home office and your remote team all communicates on Slack (like many do), you could even use the Slack Action in IFTTT and have your Nest automatically post a Slack update in a specific channel letting everyone know that you’re around if they need anything.
These are just a few ideas pulled out of IFTTT, but there are many more. The Nest integrations you’ll find there are really only limited by your own imagination.
Develop Your Own Web or Mobile Apps
If all of those integrations aren’t flexible enough for you, and if you know how to use JSON and Firebase libraries in web or mobile apps, you can actually custom code your own applications using the Nest API.
Nest offers full documentation and API reference for learning how to do this.
There’s also a Nest Labs area at GitHub where you’ll find some authentication code as well as application samples you can review.
So, the next time someone tells you that the Nest thermostat is just a thermostat, make sure to tell them just how much more it really is. With all of the integrations above and all of the new products coming on the market that are compatible with it, it can truly become the heart of any smart home.
Do you own a Nest thermostat? What’s your experience with it? Do you have any other creative home automation ideas using the Nest?